Tag Archives: Jake Maia Arlow

Fave Five: New Queer Holiday Romances

For some older titles, click here for m/m and here for f/f.

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

You’re a Mean Once, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky

Season of Love by Helena Greer

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish

Bonus: Check out Honeymoon for One by Rachel Bowdler and read her post all about queer holiday romance here.

These are all Adult novels, but for a novella, try Felix Navidad by ‘Nathan Burgoine, and in YA, check out How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow 

New Release Spotlight: How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Love light Sapphic YA romance? Love queer holiday romance? Excited to see a book mesh the two and be resplendent with nerdery? It’s got enemies-to-lovers! It’s got Jewish rep! It’s cozy and funny and basically exactly what you want to read as the fall turns to winter, and I loved it so much I blurbed it, so I’ll throw that in here too, because why not:  “With wit and chemistry that crackle like a roaring fire, the warmth and sweetness of gourmet hot cocoa, and the surprising softness of a gentle snowfall, How to Excavate a Heart truly gave me the romantic winter break of my dreams. You’ll want to savor every word, and then run and recommend it to everyone you know.” (Let the record show I am not usually so annoyingly flowery with blurbs, but like, the perfect winter vibes are so strong, it was beyond my control!) Anyway, it’s out now from HarperTeen, so go get it!

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

55348105. sy475 It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

Buy from an indie using Jake’s very comprehensive website!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Special Edition: Dazzling Book Box

New Releases: November 2022

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (1st)

55348105. sy475 It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This is Our Place by Vitor Martins, trans. by Larissa Helena (1st)

If the walls of Number 8 Sunflower Street could talk …

As Ana celebrates the new millennium, she is shocked to learn that she must leave behind her childhood home, her hometown, and — hardest of all — her girlfriend for a new life in Rio de Janeiro.

Ten years later, Greg is sent to live with his aunt — who runs a video rental store from her garage and owns a dog named Keanu Reeves — as his parents work out their not-so-secret divorce.

And ten years after that, Beto must put his dreams of becoming a photographer on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic arrives in Brazil, forcing him to live with his overprotective mother and overachieving sister.

Set in and narrated by the same house, Number 8 Sunflower Street, and in three different decades – 2000, 2010, and 2020 respectively – This Is Our Place is a novel about queer teens dealing with sudden life changes, family conflict, and first loves, proving that while generations change, we will always be connected to each other.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (1st)

59807966Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske’s beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

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Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun (1st)

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

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Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria (1st)

9781335406705_SMP_FC.jpgEight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Royal Spymistress, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.

Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.

Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.

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The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On by Franny Choi (1st)

Many have called our time dystopian. But The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On reminds us that apocalypse has already come in myriad ways for marginalized peoples and calls us to imagine what will persist in the aftermaths.

With lyric and tonal dexterity, these poems spin backwards and forwards in time. They look into the collective psyche of our years in the pandemic and in the throes of anti-racist uprisings, while imagining other vectors, directions, and futures. Stories of survival collide across space and time—from Korean comfort women during World War II to children wandering a museum in the future. These poems explore narrative distances and queer linearity, investigating on microscopic scales before soaring towards the universal. Throughout, Choi grapples with where the individual fits within the strange landscapes of this apocalyptic world, with its violent and many-layered histories. In the process, she imagines what togetherness—between Black and Asian and other marginalized communities, between living organisms, between children of calamity and conquest—could look like. Bringing together Choi’s signature speculative imagination with even greater musicality than her previous work, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On ultimately charts new paths toward hope.

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Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón (1st)

Màgòdiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.

Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, controlled by the Madjideye, a faceless, formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.

A’tugwewinu is the last survivor of the Andwànikàdjigan. On the run from the Madjideye with her lover, Bèl, a descendant of the Warrior Nation, they seek to share what the world has forgotten: stories. In Pasakamate, both Shkitagen, the firekeeper of his generation, and his life’s heart, Nitàwesì, whose hands mend bones and cure sickness, attempt to find a home where they can raise children in peace, without fear of slavers or rising waters. In Zhōng yang, Riordan wheels around just fine, leading xir gang of misfits in hopes of surviving until the next meal. However, Elite Enforcer H-09761 (Yun Seo, who was abducted as a child, then tortured and brainwashed into servitude) is determined to arrest Riordan for theft of resources and will stop at nothing to bring xir to the Madjideye. In a ruined world, six people collide, discovering family and foe, navigating friendship and love, and reclaiming the sacredness of the gifts they carry.

With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, and of transcending gender, Màgòdiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.

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The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl (1st)

This is the sequel to The Grimrose Girls.

54732645. sy475 Nani, Yuki, Ella, and Rory have discovered the truth about the curse that’s left a trail of dead bodies at Grimrose. But the four still know nothing of its origins, or how to stop the cycle of doomed fates.

And each girl harbors her own secret. One is learning why she was brought to the school. One struggles to keep her new and deadly power under control. One knows exactly how much time she has left.

And one, trying to escape her dark destiny, will come even closer to fulfilling it.

Can the girls change their own stories and break the curse? Or must one of them die to end it forever?

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Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (1st)

59808117When Tennal—a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster—is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him.

Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds.

Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.

Buy it: BookshopAmazon | IndieBound

Securing Ava by Anne Shade (1st)

Securing AvaAva Prescott has had one goal in life, to carry on the Prescott legacy by taking the reins of Diamond Unlimited Wealth Management. Her father’s determination to uphold the company’s wholesome family image propels Ava into a reluctant fake relationship with Kyle, a man she’s sure is a threat to the business. When her father is the victim of a suspicious accident, Ava believes Kyle is responsible and has no choice but to run.

Paige Richards saw enough violence to last a lifetime during her years as a counterintelligence specialist. She’s ready for some peace on her ranch in Oklahoma and is paying the bills as a private investigator. Paige takes a case to locate and bring back runaway heiress Ava Prescott. It seems simple enough, until she stumbles upon a bungled kidnapping attempt and her peaceful life is turned upside down. Now she must use every skill she has to secure Ava.

As they try to figure out who is out to hurt Ava and her family, Paige and Ava fight to stay one step ahead of the threat and resist their growing attraction. But ignoring their feelings may prove impossible when their hearts and lives are at stake.

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In the Key of Dale by Benjamin Lefebvre (1st)

Sixteen-year-old Dale Cardigan is a loner who’s managed to make himself completely invisible at his all-boys high school. He doesn’t fit with his classmates (whom he gives nicknames in his head), his stepbrother (whom nobody at school knows he’s related to), or even his mother (who never quite sees how gifted a musician Dale might be)—but they don’t fit with him, either. And he’s fine with that. To him, high school and home are stages to endure until his real life can finally begin.

Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale’s complex life outside school, but their friendship is made awkward when Dale is uncertain whether his growing attraction to Rusty is one-sided. Still, it’s to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret that shakes everything he thought he knew.

An epistolary novel written in the form of letters to his late father, In the Key of Dale is a beguiling, pitch-perfect book about growing up, fitting in, and finding a way out of grief and loneliness toward the melodic light of adulthood.

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The Heartbreak Handshake by J.R. Hart (1st)

60168776. sy475 Paxton McKee, Clover Hill’s rideshare driver and handyman, is known by his customers as responsible, dependable, and loyal. On first dates, though, he’s known by another word: boring. His dates never seem to appreciate his in-depth knowledge of famous aviation disasters or his LEGO expertise. His book club buddy, Mrs. Sawyer, keeps trying to set him up. But after so many failed dates, Paxton’s given up on finding someone who can accept him, special interests, stims, and all.

Hand-crafter Remi Sawyer put Clover Hill in their rear-view mirror to sell at craft fairs across the country. But being a traveling artisan is harder than Remi thought. With mounting bills, they’ve ended up back home. Being in their old teenage bedroom is weird. Weirder, their mother keeps trying to set them up on dates, even after they’ve made it clear the homecoming is temporary.

To get Mrs. Sawyer off their backs, Paxton and Remi agree on a scheme: they’ll go on three dates. When it’s over, Paxton can pretend to be heartbroken, and Remi can get back on the road. They even shake on it. But awkward dates lead to the realization the two have a lot in common. Kissing is gross? Check. Spending quiet time doing projects together is enjoyable? Double check.

But Remi is still hell-bent on leaving Clover Hill again, and Paxton is dead-set on staying. Can they find a new vision that doesn’t involve Remi leaving their kindred spirit behind, or are they both destined to lose the person who might be their perfect companion?

Buy it: Amazon

Check Your Work by Skye Kilaen (1st)

59867218. sy475 Bisexual ex-barista Oliver is finally a high school math teacher, and it’s everything he ever wanted. Until he stumbles across the mysterious customer he crushed on back when he worked at Knockdown Coffee… and kinda sorta accidentally tells his Vice Principal that he’s dating her. Oops?

Octavia, a bi programmer, didn’t expect to run into the cute blue-haired barista again. Certainly not while volunteering at a local arts high school. He’s much too young and much too nice for her—but when she discovers he’s told people they’re dating, it’s a stroke of luck. She needs a fake relationship to stick it to her nemesis, and Oliver’s the perfect fit.

Their assignment is simple: one month of a convincing charade, and after the company gala, everything between them is absolutely and completely over.

Sometimes, however, the homework is harder than you expected.

Buy it: Amazon

Is it Hot in Here (Or am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth?) by Zach Zimmerman

60420674In this laugh-and-cry-out-loud, memoir-esque exploration of selfhood, Zimmerman dives into the pros and cons of retiring a Bible-Belt-dwelling, meat-eating, God-fearing identity in exchange for a new, metropolitan lease on life—one of vegetarianism, atheism, queerness, and humor. Whether learning to absolve instilled religious guilt or reminiscing over Tinder dates gone horribly wrong, this book is a candid and hysterical look at one person’s journey toward making peace with the past and seeking hope in the future.

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Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith (8th)

60323939. sy475 My name is Callie, and I’m not a girl. I am here as Papa’s squire, and I want to train as a knight.

In a world where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, twelve-year-old nonbinary Callie doesn’t fit in anywhere. And you know what? That’s just fine. Callie has always known exactly what they want to be, and they’re not about to let a silly thing like gender rules stand in their way.

When their ex-hero dad is summoned back to the royal capital of Helston to train a hopeless crown prince as war looms, Callie lunges at the opportunity to finally prove themself worthy to Helston’s great and powerful.

Except the intolerant great and powerful look at Callie and only see girl.

Trapped in Helston’s rigid hierarchy, Callie discovers they aren’t alone–there’s Elowen, the chancellor’s brilliant daughter, whose unparalleled power is being stifled; Edwyn, Elowen’s twin brother, locked in a desperate fight to win his father’s approval; and Willow, the crown prince who was never meant to be king.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Libro.fm

Beneath the Burning Wave by Jennifer Hayashi Danns (8th)

60254110Kaori and Kairi are the first twins to survive infancy on the ancient island of Mu, where gender is as fluid as the crashing waves. One was born of fire, the other of water.

But there’s a reason why none have survived before. A prophecy that has haunted the elders since time began. A rivalry destined to sink the entire island beneath a twin catastrophe of volcano and tsunami.

As hatred spills from the forbidden twins like the deadly poison of sacrificed sea snakes, they must decide what matters to them most…

The fight for the island – for tradition and duty.
Or the fight for freedom – for love and light.

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Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (8th)

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

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Girlcrush by Florence Given (8th)

In Given’s debut novel, we follow Eartha on a wild, weird and seductive modern-day exploration as she commences life as an openly bisexual woman whilst also becoming a viral sensation on Wonder Land, a social media app where people project their dreamselves online. But as her online self and her offline self become more and more distanced, trauma from her past comes back to haunt and destroy her present. Eartha must make a choice: which version of herself should she kill off?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (8th)

60579828As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?

No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.

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Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell (15th)

55959429Adele grew up in the shadows–first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors.

Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Forever Factor by Melissa Brayden (15th)

Is it truly better to have loved and lost? Bethany Cahill says nope. Eleven years ago, her fellow cheerleader Reid Thatcher held her heart in her hand…and crushed it like a bug. Since then, Bethany avoids risk, reward, and anything romantic on TV. Just, no. When a new patient walks into her office, she’s catapulted into the past and staring into Reid’s eyes, who is still annoyingly stunning. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy, and Bethany isn’t about to let Reid in. Not after all she took.

Reid never understood why Bethany ran from her all those years ago, but no kiss since has ever been as satisfying as Bethany’s lips on hers. Orchestrating a run-in was the best idea she’s ever had, and Reid plans to get to the bottom of Bethany’s silence, a mystery she can’t let drop. But she hadn’t planned on the reckoning in store when she learns the truth.

When Bethany and Reid confront their past, they give new meaning to letting go, forgiveness, and a future worth fighting for.

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A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings by Will Betke-Brunswick (15th)

During Will Betke-Brunswick’s sophomore year of college, their beloved mother, Elizabeth, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. They only have ten more months together, which Will documents in evocative two-color illustrations. But as we follow Will and their mom through chemo and hospital visits, their time together is buoyed by laughter, jigsaw puzzles, modern art, and vegan BLTs. In a delightful twist, Will portrays their family as penguins, and their friends are cast as a menagerie of birds. In between therapy and bedside chats, they navigate uniquely human challenges, as Will prepares for math exams, comes out as genderqueer, and negotiates familial tension.

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings is an act of loving others and loving oneself, offering a story of coming-of-age, illness, death, and life that announces the arrival of a talented storyteller in Will Betke-Brunswick. At its heart, Will’s story is a celebration of a mother-child relationship filled with unconditional devotion, humor, care, and openness.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Calling the Shots by Kelly Farmer (15th)

Calling the Shots (Out on the Ice Book 3) by [Kelly Farmer]Retired superstar Regan Lane is known for being outspoken. She’s never been one to keep her opinions to herself. When she lands a head coaching job in the women’s pro league with the Boston Ice, her brash promise to win the championship in her first year shocks no one. Especially not Tierney McGovern, head coach of the rival New York Lady Libertys.

Single mom Tierney knows what it’s like to live in someone else’s shadow, and she won’t let Regan steal the spotlight. Besides, she knows exactly how Regan operates: when it comes to delivering on her promises, she falls pitifully short. At least she did when she ghosted Tierney after their long-ago amazing week together.

As their teams face each other game after game, it doesn’t take long for them to realize their hockey rivalry isn’t the only thing heating up. And that maybe the real victory is in taking big chances on the ice—and off.

Buy it: Amazon

Schuss by E. J. Noyes (17th)

Schuss by E. J. NoyesStacey Evans wants only one thing: to be the best alpine ski racer she can be. Everything else—like her sweet and ultra-supportive best friend, and hot-but-vapid girlfriend—is just a bonus. Fresh from a medal at her first Olympics, Stacey knows she can only get better and is firmly focused on the future, and totally not thinking about how she’s kind of a little in love with that sweet, ultra-supportive best friend…

Gemma Archer has had a crush on Stacey from the moment she first saw her, but being her best friend is so amazing that she’s almost managed to push that crush aside. Almost. But even if Gemma finds the courage to tell Stacey how she really feels, there’s a mountain of obstacles to overcome—like the fact Gemma’s stepmom is Stacey’s coach (awkward) and Gemma will be going away to college in a few months. And most importantly…what if admitting how she feels ruins the best friendship she’s ever had?

Schuss brings back two beloved side characters from E. J. Noyes’ bestselling, award-winning novel Gold.

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At Midnight: 15 Beloved Fairytales Reimagined ed. by Dahlia Adler (22nd)

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.

Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:

Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert

Once upon a time . . .

Buy it: Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (22nd)

58800142. sy475 For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

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Mabel and Everything After by Hannah Saffren (22nd)

Emma thinks she has her life all mapped out, until a flirty encounter at an Orioles game finds her thrown drastically off course. Mabel is everything her long-time boyfriend, Jack, isn’t—smart and funny, sweet and confident—and it doesn’t take Emma long to realize a relationship with Mabel could hold the keys to happiness. And it does…until Emma’s deep insecurities about their same-sex relationship emerge and she leaves for law school. Without Mabel.

As years pass, Emma and Mabel find themselves repeatedly crossing paths, even as distance tries to keep them apart. And now that Emma has finally found comfort in her own skin, it should be an easy road to their fairy tale happily-ever-after, right?

Buy it: Amazon

Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese

60039565Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash everyone’s hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: What if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

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The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard (24th)

60811024. sy475 Xich Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xich Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xich Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xich Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xich Si means Rice Fish can offer Xich Si protection, in exchange for Xich Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

Buy it: Waterstones | Book Depository

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (29th)

What’s more important? Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

The summer of her senior year, seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson finds herself uprooted from her life in DC and moved into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between her mom and Mama Letty makes for an unwelcoming arrival and unearths some family drama they refuse to talk about. Everytime Avery tries to look deeper, they turn her away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

Where Mama Letty is cantankerous and closed off, Avery finds friendship in some unexpected places: in Simone, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family— whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

But as the three girls grow closer—Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into something more—the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town start to hint at something more insidious underneath. Turning to Mama Letty for answers only result in more questions, uncovering decades-old secrets that have been brewing for generations, exposing the towns racist history and threatening to topple the new life Avery’s built in Bardell County, Georgia.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Libro.fm

In the City of Time by Gwendolyn Clare (29th)

In 1891, Willa Marconi’s life falls apart when her mentor at the University of Bologna unexpectedly dies, but Willa refuses to let anyone take her research away. While testing her prototype radio equipment, she detects a mysterious signal and pursues its origin.

In 2034, a cataclysmic event has rendered Earth uninhabitable, and humankind survives by living inside artificial worlds. Riley would do anything for Jaideep, who lost his family in the collapse of the Bay Area pocket universe—and “anything” includes building a time machine so they can travel back to the nineteenth century to prevent the destabilization of the planet and rewrite history.

But the experiment goes wrong. Willa is pulled forward in time, and the three find themselves stranded in a strange, seemingly abandoned city. Now they’ve got a glitchy time machine, a scary android time cop hot on their trail—dead set on preserving the current timeline—and some tangled temporal mechanics to unravel. Can they save the Earth before there’s no Earth left to save?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales (29th)

59808187It’s been two years since Maya dumped her cheating ex-boyfriend Jordy, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country, and in the lead up to the wedding he captured hearts globally as the eligible younger brother. So, when Maya receives an invitation to be a contestant on Second Chance Romance, a new reality show in which the now-famous Jordy will re-date his ex-girlfriends in an effort to find “the one that got away,” she isn’t interested…that is, until she realizes she can use this opportunity to exact her revenge. If she can make it to the finale, she can reject Jordy and publicly break his heart. As far as Maya’s concerned, it’s payback with interest: just what a guy like Jordy deserves.

But when she gets to the set, she’s confronted with the one person she hasn’t accounted for: Skye, the beautiful, charismatic girl Jordy cheated on Maya with. How is she supposed to live with this girl for six weeks? Sharing bunkbeds, for crying out loud?

Except, of course, there’s more to Skye than she lets most people see. Skye has her own reasons for being careful with her heart, and might be more willing to take Maya’s side than it initially seems. If they can sustain their reluctant alliance—and keep their unexpected chemistry from interfering—they might just have a chance to take Jordy down.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Libro.fm

The Two Doctors Górski by Isaac Fellman (29th)

The Two Doctors GórskiAnnae, a brilliant graduate student in psychiatric magic and survivor of academic abuse, can’t stop reading people’s minds. This is how she protects herself, by using her abilities to know exactly how her colleagues view her. This is how she escapes the torturous experience of her own existence.

When Annae moves to England to rebuild her life and finish her studies under the seminal magician Marec Górski—infamous for bringing to life a homunculus made from his unwanted better self—she sees, inside his head, a man who is both a destructive force to everyone around him, and her mirror image. For Annae to survive, she’ll need to break free of a lifetime of conditioning to embody her own self and forge her own path.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Drama! by A.J. Truman (29th)

62346706. sy475 My arch nemesis is now my fake boyfriend. Can you say drama?

Uptight drama teacher Everett and cocky jock Raleigh must pretend to be boyfriends at an upcoming wedding in order for Everett to save face in front of his mega-famous ex.

Buy it: Amazon

Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

This post is sponsored by me and Home Field Advantage, available now in hardcover and ebook from Wednesday books and audio (narrated by Natalie Naudus and Lori Prince) by OrangeSky Audio!


Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

***

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson (July 19th)

58724672Taylor Parker has always been a funny girl―but when she is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. If she wants a shot at winning in a little more than a month, Taylor will have to come out about both of her secrets: She wants to be a comedian . . . and she’s a lesbian.

With a mom who gave up a career in comedy to raise her, and a comedian dad who left for a younger woman, working in comedy is a sore subject in Taylor’s house. To keep her secret under wraps, she sneaks out to do improv and hides her sketches under the bed, and to distract from her anxiety about the competition, Taylor frequents Salem’s Museum of Witchcraft to pine for Abigail Williams from the back row.

It’s at the Museum of Witchcraft where Taylor falls deeper in love with the girl who plays Abigail Williams―Charlotte Grey, an out and proud lesbian at Nathaniel Hawthorne High. Charlotte radiates so much confidence in her acting and queerness that Taylor can’t resist her. So when Charlotte reaches out for help on a school project, Taylor readily agrees. As they spend more time together, Taylor sees what living her truth and pursuing her dreams could bring her, but Charlotte can’t understand why someone as funny as Taylor wouldn’t go all out to make the most of her opportunities. To live up to her own comedy dreams and become the person she wants to be, Taylor will have to find the confidence to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month 2022!

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month, and make sure to check out last year’s post for even more titles!

Books to Buy Now

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

55624941. sx318 Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.

Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations.

All of that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth.

What they discover is a family they never knew, and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend.  As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets—and confront her own hidden legacy in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.

Rebecca Podos, award-winning author of Like Water, returns with a contemporary fantasy of enduring love, unfathomable loss, and the power of stories to hold us together when it seems that nothing else can.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | B-A-M

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

The Fountains of Silence meets Spinning Silver in this rollicking tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest from Sydney Taylor Honor winner Katherine Locke.

In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most–safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.

Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Matzo Match by Roz Alexander

56711248. sy475 Can a meddling matchmaker help two broken hearts to love again?

After a brutal break-up, Sam is ready for a lot of things: spring, hosting on her own again, a casual fling or two. Sam is definitely not ready for anything real, but her best friend Virginia has decided she’s taken long enough. When loving encouragements aren’t enough, Virginia takes fate into her own hands.

With Passover just around the corner, will a surprise blind date, three celebrations in eight days, and approximately 100 glasses of wine be enough to finally move on?

After one taste of the hard-bodied, immaculately dressed butch Jordan, it just might be time. Too bad Jordan has her own baggage to work through.

Matzo Match is a steamy lesbian age gap love story and the first entry in the “Hot for the Holidays” series.

Buy it: Amazon

Books to Preorder

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb (October 18, 2022)

Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn’t have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.

Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America.

But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Season of Love by Helena Greer (October 11, 2022)

A witty, glittering rom-com about finding the courage to face your past and learning what it truly means to return home, perfect for fans of the Hallmark channel (but queer and Jewish!), Jenny Bayliss, and Alexandra Bellefleur.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (November 1, 2022)

55348105. sy475 It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee (January 3, 2023)

Elisheva Cohen has just returned to Brooklyn after almost a decade. The wounds of abandoning the Orthodox community that raised her, then shunned her because of her substance abuse, are still painful. But when she gets an amazing opportunity to study photography with art legend Wyatt Cole, Ely is willing to take the leap.

On her first night back in town, Ely goes out to the infamous queer club Revel for a celebratory night of dancing. Ely is swept off her feet and into bed by a gorgeous man who looks like James Dean, but with a thick Carolina accent. The next morning, Ely wakes up alone and rushes off to attend her first photography class, reminiscing on the best one-night stand of her life. She doesn’t even know his name. That is, until Wyatt Cole shows up for class—and Ely realizes that the man she just spent an intimate and steamy night with is her teacher.

Everyone in the art world is obsessed with Wyatt Cole. He’s immensely talented and his notoriously reclusive personal life makes him all the more compelling. But there’s a reason why his past is hard for him to publicize. After coming out as transgender, Wyatt was dishonorably discharged from the military and disowned by his family. From then on he committed to sobriety and channeled his pain into his flourishing art career. While Ely and Wyatt’s relationship started out on a physical level, their similar struggles spark a much deeper connection. The chemistry is undeniable, but their new relationship as teacher and student means desperately wanting what they can’t have.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros (February 21, 2023)

This exciting and adventurous start to a middle-grade trilogy follows a queer boy and his family as they try to halt the chaotic effects of a mysterious ring, drawing upon Jewish mythology to navigate magic, mayhem and the search for pride in one’s identity.

The little beachside town of San Pancras is not known for anything exciting, but when Zach Darlington buys a mysterious ring at the local flea market, his quiet little hometown is turned topsy-turvy by monsters straight from Jewish folklore and a nefarious secret society focused on upholding an apocalyptic prophecy.

Zach discovers that the ring grants him strange powers, and he’s intrigued; maybe he can use the ring’s strengths to halt the slew of anti-Semitic and homophobic bullying he’s experiencing at school. But soon the ring brings unexpected visitors—Ashmedai, King of Demons, in the guise of a preteen boy named Ash, and the local chapter of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society intent on completing a creepy prophecy that will bring three monsters to Earth to start the events of the end of times.

Now responsible for the ring and its consequences, will Zach and his friends, with the help of Ash, be able to stop the Apocalypse and save the world?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Books to Add to Your TBR

 

Happy Lesbian Visibility Day 2022!

This post only includes books that were not featured in past posts. For even more visibly lesbian goodness, check out posts from 2021, 2020, and 2019, too!

Books to Read Now

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins

56918560. sy475 Instant I Do could be Kris Zavala’s big break. She’s right on the cusp of really making it as an influencer, so a stint on reality TV is the perfect chance to elevate her brand. And $100,000 wouldn’t hurt, either.

D’Vaughn Miller is just trying to break out of her shell. She’s sort of neglected to come out to her mom for years, so a big splashy fake wedding is just the excuse she needs.

All they have to do is convince their friends and family they’re getting married in six weeks. If anyone guesses they’re not for real, they’re out. Selling their chemistry on camera is surprisingly easy, and it’s still there when no one else is watching, which is an unexpected bonus. Winning this competition is going to be a piece of wedding cake.

But each week of the competition brings new challenges, and soon the prize money’s not the only thing at stake. A reality show isn’t the best place to create a solid foundation, and their fake wedding might just derail their relationship before it even starts.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Happy Lesbian Visibility Day 2022!

Gift Guide: Chanukah/Hanukkah 5782

Give a loved one celebrating the Festival of Lights the joy of queer Jewish literature!

The Flower Girl Wore Celery written by Meryl Gordon and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

The Flower Girl Wore Celery by [Meryl G. Gordon, Holly Clifton-Brown]Emma’s so excited to be a bridesmaid at her cousin Hannah’s wedding, but it sure does come with a lot of surprises! She did not expect to have to wear a dress the color of celery, or for the ring-bearer to be a bear, or for Alex, the person Hannah’s marrying, to be a girl, too! But it’s a beautiful day and a beautiful traditional Jewish wedding, even in a dress the color of celery.

Grab this one for your youngest readers, and certainly for any flower girls in your life!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

A Romanian immigrant named Alter is trying to settle into his new life well enough to bring his mother and sister over, but when his roommate is the latest in a line of Jewish boys found murdered, and his dybbuk takes over Alter’s body in pursuit of the killer, Alter is forced to join forces with the most dangerous (and compelling) boy from his past to find the guilty party, get justice for Yakov, and regain his freedom.

Grab this one for fans of historical fiction (it’s set at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 Chicago at the World’s Fair), thrillers, horror, and anyone who’s regularly immersed in Ashkenazi culture and loves to see it reflected.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi Grant knows she’s more than qualified to lecture on sex positivity and her successful startup, but her past as a porn star keeps getting her blocked from opportunities. Enter Rabbi Ethan Cohen, who’s happy to take a chance on Naomi in order to draw interest to and expand his congregation. They are a most unlikely pair, but they’re certainly successful…a little too much so, maybe.

Grab this one for any fans of sexy romance. Don’t be frightened off by the rabbi hero, because I can definitely confirm It Works.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Controlling her food intake with restriction and ritual is about as religious as Rachel gets, which makes her instant connection with Orthodox, food-loving Miriam of the frozen yogurt shop both confusing and compelling. But while on a therapy-induced hiatus from communicating with her controlling mother, nothing feels better to Rachel than the way Miriam takes care of and nourishes her, even as both struggle with how far this relationship of opposites can possibly go.

Grab this one for the litfic lovers in your life, and anyone coping with complicated relationships with mothers, food (with the obvious content warning in place), religion, or any combination thereof.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s finally landed Chase, the guy of her dreams, so why can’t she stop thinking about Jasmine, the girl she hooked up with over the summer? And WTF is Jasmine doing at her new school?

Grab this one for tweens, teens, questioning and/or bi friends of any age, and romance lovers.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander

B-List actress Lilah and makeup artist Noa need to work together to help both of them succeed and move up in their respective food chains in Hollywood. But the more time they spend together, the harder they fall, giving them the brand-new problem of how to handle love in the spotlight.

Grab this one for the Sapphic adult romance lovers in your life!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

Dalia’s plans for a perfect amusement-park filled summer hit a snag when her blended family-to-be decides it’s the perfect opportunity for some quality time. Which sucks, until Dalia learns her future stepsister’s bringing her girlfriend on the trip, and realizes they have more in common than she thought…and she just might have feelings for her own roller coaster companion of choice, Rani.

Grab this one for younger readers, especially if they’re newly out, love romance, are coping with family blending, or just like fun.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Randy’s always loved hanging out with his friends and starring in the musicals at all-queer Camp Outland, but this year, he’s reinventing himself as the considerably more masc Del in order to finally land his crush, Hudson. He’s sure that once Hudson falls for him, he’ll be able to shift back into his old personality, but will he? And would it even be worth it if he could?

Grab this for summer camp kids, romance fans, readers hungry for all-queer casts, and anyone who appreciates books for teens that are a little more Queer 2.0. (Also, this one’s available in paperback, making it a good option for readers who prefer them, and also easier on the budget!)

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

53417444. sy475 When Noah seeks refuge during a hurricane, he immediately clicks with the other queer refugees, but not without concern that his also being Jewish and trans could put a target on his back. Support arrives in the most unlikely place: the form of his great-grandfather, German refugee Abe, who coaches Noah on how to survive and forces him to choose what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to live.

Grab this one for readers interested in cli-fi, Dystopian fans, and anyone looking for rare Jewish and trans rep.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Teen witch Nova lives a lovely small-town life with her grandmothers, but it all turns upside-down when she follows a white wolf into the woods and realizes it’s her childhood crush, Tam, who’s been searching for someplace to land. Now Tam needs help taking down a horse demon and everyone else looking to steal their power, and Nova is up to the task…and finding that her old feelings are very much still there.

Grab this one for fans of graphic novels, books that are spooky yet cozy, and anyone particularly looking for bicultural Jewish representation.

Note: Want to make this an extra-special gift? Grab the collector’s edition!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Unwritten Rules by KD Casey

Read more about this book and the Judaism within it here.

Zach Glasser looks like he has a dream life as a pro ball player, but truthfully, he’s miserable over the fact that he lost the love of his life, teammate Eugenio Morales, when he wouldn’t and couldn’t come out three years earlier.  But now they’re being reunited for an all-star game, and Zach’s finally got another chance. Can he be who Eugenio needs him to be without giving up everything else in his life?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Grab this one for fans of sports, romance, and sports romance!

Don’t see something for your recipients here? Take a glance at this post for a whole bunch more queer Jewish reads!

Going with a gift card this year? Consider pairing it with recommendations for upcoming books, like This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke, Ellen Outside the Lines by AJ Sass!

Prefer to give a donation, or simply won’t get books in time because this blogger decided to do this post at the last minute and swears she’ll be earlier next year but right now this is the best we’ve got? Consider giving to Jewish Queer Youth!

New Releases: June 8th, 2021

Middle Grade

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

53284187. sy475 In a home where social conservatism, machismo, and masculine identity run deep, Corpus Christi, Texas high school senior Julián Luna is forced to keep his gay identity a secret. Jules’ only focus is laying low the next ten months and enjoying every moment he has left with his friends before college takes them on separate paths.

Completely doable.

Until Jules wakes up hungover and discovers he came out on Twitter in between tequila shots. In an instant, his entire life is thrown—literally—out the closet.

Helping him navigate the life that is openly gay Jules is Mat, a Twitter mutual from Los Angeles who slides into Jules’ DMs. He’s friendly, supportive, funny, and so attractive. He’s the first person Jules says the words “I’m gay” to. And, if he weren’t three states away, could definitely be Jules’ first boyfriend.

But a cute boy living halfway across the country can’t fix all Jules’ problems. There’s one thing he’ll have to face on his own: coming out to his homophobic father.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen – heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel made her dramatic return with an announcement: Three lucky Golden Rule users have been chosen to compete in a mystery treasure hunt at her private estate – all for an unimaginable cash prize. Luna: fifteen, fearless, and Jewel’s biggest fan. Nicole: the new Queen of Golden Rule given an invitation she couldn’t refuse. Stella: the brilliant outsider with a killer ulterior motive.

As the weekend goes on, the line between reality and the game begins to blur and the players begin to realize that money isn’t the only thing at stake.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson

In a world bound for an epic flood, only a chosen few are guaranteed safe passage into the new world once the waters recede. The Kostrovian royal court will be saved, of course, along with their guards. But the fate of the court’s Royal Flyers, a lauded fleet of aerial silk performers, is less certain. Hell-bent on survival, Principal Flyer, Natasha Koskinen, will do anything to save the Flyers, who are the only family she’s ever known. Even if “anything” means molding herself into the type of girl who could be courted by Prince Nikolai. But unbeknownst to Natasha, her newest recruit, Ella Neves, is driven less by her desire to survive the floods than her thirst for revenge. And Ella’s mission could put everything Natasha has worked for in peril.

As the oceans rise, so too does an undeniable spark between the two flyers. With the end of the world looming, and dark secrets about the Kostrovian court coming to light, Ella and Natasha can either give in to despair . . . or find a new reason to live.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Queen of All by Anya Josephs

The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories About Living Fabulously Fat ed. by Cassandra Newbould

54860255An intersectional, feminist YA anthology from some of today’s most exciting voices across a span of genres, all celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance through short stories.

Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of stories and genres, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve.

With a foreword by Aubry Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend, and with stories by:

Nafiza Azad, Chris Baron, Sheena Boekweg, Linda Camacho, Kelly deVos, Alex Gino, Claire Kann, amanda lovelace, Hillary Monahan, Cassandra Newbould, Francina Simone, Rebecca Sky, Monique Gray Smith, Renée Watson, Catherine Adel West, Jennifer Yen

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Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn (10th)

1794, London: Camille and Al are desperately hunting Olympe’s kidnapper. From the glamorous excesses of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to the city’s seedy underbelly, they are caught in a dangerous game of lies and deceit. And a terrible new enemy lies in wait with designs more monstrous than they could ever imagine… Can Camille play on to the end or will she be forced to show her hand?

In Paris, the Duc is playing his own dangerous games. With Ada in his thrall, old loyalties are thrown into question. The Battalion are torn apart as never before, and everything – Ada’s love for Camille, her allegiance to the battalion itself – is under threat.

Buy it: Book Depository

Adult

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

This was previously published in the UK by Dialogue Books

In the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has immigrated to Britain with his wife and children to secure a brighter future. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient, but are all too aware that their family will need more than just hope to survive in their new country.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed hometown in the industrial Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, masculinity and spirituality.

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The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

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Doubting Thomas by Matthew Clark Davison

Thomas McGurrin is a fourth-grade teacher and openly gay man at a private primary school serving Portland, Oregon’s wealthy progressive elite when he’s falsely accused of inappropriately touching a male student. The accusation comes just as Thomas is thrust back into the center of his unusual family by his younger brother’s battle with cancer. Although cleared of the accusation, Thomas is forced to resign from a job he loves during a potentially life-changing family drama.

Davison’s novel explores the discrepancy between the progressive ideals and persistent negative stereotypes among the privileged regarding social status, race, and sexual orientation and the impact of that discrepancy on friendships and family relations.

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The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

55338994Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?

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Nowhere Else by Felicia Davin

This is the third book in the Nowhere series.

Nowhere Else by [Felicia Davin]Solomon Lange was a brilliant, ambitious physicist until a catastrophe in his lab trapped him in the void between worlds. Newly rescued but traumatized and uncontrollably telekinetic, Lange no longer feels at home in the world or in his body. All he wants is to return to the Nowhere.

But one crew member—the intolerable, imperturbable, incredibly patient, unbearably gentle Jacob McCreery—refuses to let him. Jake insists that Lange is the only one who can fix the damage in his lab, a breach to the Nowhere that’s simultaneously devouring and distorting the space around it. Left open, the growing breach threatens all of humanity. Jake’s not ready to give up on saving the world just yet—and he’s willing to dodge whatever Lange throws at him.

Working together brings Lange and Jake closer than they’ve ever allowed themselves to be with anyone else. Can two wounded, lonely people repair each other in time to repair the world?

Buy it: Amazon

Memoir

55711622Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer

From popular LGBTQ advice columnist and writer John Paul Brammer comes a hilarious, heartwarming memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey growing up as a queer, mixed-race kid in America’s heartland to becoming the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation.

The first time someone called John Paul (JP) Brammer “Papi” was on the popular gay hookup app Grindr. At first, it was flattering; JP took this as white-guy speak for “hey, handsome.” Who doesn’t want to be called handsome? But then it happened again and again…and again, leaving JP wondering: Who the hell is Papi?

What started as a racialized moniker given to him on a hookup app soon became the inspiration for his now wildly popular advice column “¡Hola Papi!”, launching his career as the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere—and some straight people too. JP had his doubts at first—what advice could he really offer while he himself stumbled through his early 20s? Sometimes the best advice to dole outcomes from looking within, which is what JP has done in his column and book—and readers have flocked to him for honest, heartfelt wisdom, and of course a few laughs.

In ¡Hola Papi!, JP shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet against the backdrop of America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s toughest questions: How do I let go of the past? How do I become the person I want to be? Is there such a thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out of the closet? Questions we’ve all asked ourselves, surely.

With wit and wisdom in equal measure, ¡Hola Papi! is for anyone—gay, straight, and everything in between—who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world, offering considered advice, intelligent discourse, and fits of laughter along the way. As #1 New York Times bestselling author Shea Serrano says: “I loved ¡Hola Papi! I’m certain you will too.”

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Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month!

Books to Buy Now

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

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The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire by Rachel Sharona Lewis

Congregation Beth Abraham expected their newest rabbi to “sing some songs and go to an environmental rally.” But Vivian Green has other ideas. She wants her flock to engage meaningfully with their city-special mayoral elections, interfaith breakfasts, fights for affordable housing and all. Also, she would like just one night off to go dancing in the leather boots that make her look like her finest gay self.

Taking on the city’s old boys’ club is already proving difficult…but then Beth Abraham bursts into flames. Fingers get pointed, and everyone’s biases rise to the surface. It turns out that wasn’t the only fire burning in town.

Vivian sticks to her instincts, raising tensions with her boss, her community, and a certain hottie in a power suit. And she learns that knowing whodunnit is only half the battle.

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The Fever King by Victoria Lee

The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Buy it: Bookshop | B&N | Amazon

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

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Nine of Swords, Reversed by Xan West z”l

Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.

But Dev’s got a problem: xe has been in so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?

Buy it: Gumroad | Amazon

The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

38650956In a nuclear arms race, you’d use anything for an edge. Even magic.

Ilse and Wolf Klein bear many secrets. Genius Ilse is unsure if her parents will ever accept her love of physics. Her brother Wolf strives for a quiet life, though he worries that there’s no place in the world for people like him. But their deepest secret lies within their blood: with it, they can work magic.

Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.

When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the secret letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?

Loyalties and identities will be tested in this sweeping fantasy and a fast-paced thriller that bravely explores the tensions at the dawn of the nuclear age.

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Sarahland by Sam Cohen

54503493In Sarahland, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure—and a new set of problems—by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, Cohen explodes this search for self, insisting that we have more to resist and repair than our own personal narratives. Readers witness as the ever-evolving “Sarah” gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, “Sarah” will continue.

In each Sarah’s refusal to adhere to a single narrative, she potentially builds a better home for us all, a place to live that demands no fixity of self, no plague of consumerism, no bodily compromise, a place called Sarahland.

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Kissing Ezra Holtz by Brianna Shrum

40879516. sy475 Seventeen-year-old Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz couldn’t be more different. They’ve known (and avoided) each other their whole lives; she unable to stand his buttoned-up, arrogant, perfect disposition, and he unwilling to deal with her slacker, rule-breaking way of moving through the world.

When they are unhappily paired on an AP Psychology project, they come across an old psychological study that posits that anyone can fall in love with anyone, if you put them through the right scientific, psychological steps. They decide to put that theory to the test for their project, matching couples from different walks of high school life to see if science really can create love.

As they go through the whirlwind of the experiment, Ezra and Amalia realize that maybe it’s not just the couples they matched who are falling for each other . . .

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Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

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The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

32179385. sy475 Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Buy it: Amazon

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

theartofstarvingMatt hasn’t eaten in days.

His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.

In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

36341204. sy475 Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

bivis5Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Wide Awake by David Levithan

I can’t believe there’s going to be a gay Jewish president.

As my mother said this, she looked at my father, who was still staring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me? I sat there and beamed.

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question… and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in… and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people we hold dear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman by Abby Chava Stein

44287250Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner

54369673. sx318 Goldengrove’s towers and twisted chimneys rose at the very edge of the peaceful Weald, a stone’s throw from the poisonous marshes and merciless waters of Rye Bay. Young Tabby Palethorp had been running wild there, ever since her mother grew too ill to leave her room.

I was the perfect choice to give Tabby a good English education: thoroughly respectable and far too plain to tempt her lonely father, Sir Kit, to indiscretion.

I knew better than to trust my new employer with the truth about my past. But knowing better couldn’t stop me from yearning for impossible things: to be Tabby’s mother, Sir Kit’s companion, Goldengrove’s new mistress.

All that belonged to poor Lady Palethorp. Most of all, I burned to finally catch a glimpse of her.

Surely she could tell me who had viciously defaced the exquisite guitar in the music room, why all the doors in the house were locked after dark, and whose footsteps I heard in the night…

Buy it: Audible

The Papercutter by Cindy Rizzo

A deeply polarized and ungovernable United States of America has separated into two nations―the God Fearing States (GFS) and the United Progressive Regions (UPR).

Judith Braverman, a teenager living in an Orthodox Jewish community in the GFS, is not only a talented artist accomplished in the ancient craft of papercutting, she also has the gift of seeing into peoples’ souls―and can tell instantly if someone is good or evil.

Jeffrey Schwartz has no love for religion or conformity and yearns to escape to the freedom of the UPR. When he’s accepted into an experimental pen pal program and paired with Dani Fine, an openly queer girl in the UPR, he hopes that he can finally find a way out.

As danger mounts and their alarm grows, Judith embeds a secret code in her papercuts so that she and Jeffrey can tell Dani what’s happening to Jews in the GFS without raising suspicions from the government. When the three arrange a quick, clandestine meeting, Jeffrey is finally faced with the choice to flee or to stay and resist. And Judith is reeling from a pull toward Dani that is unlike anything she has ever felt before.

Buy it: Amazon

Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

53417444. sy475 When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain “capital-T” Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great- grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor ⁠— and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Books to Preorder

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (June 8th)

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

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I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander (August 3rd)

Lilah Silver’s a young actress who dreams of climbing out of B-list stardom. She’s been cast as the “final girl” in what could be her breakout performance…but if she wants to prove herself to everyone who ever doubted her, she’s going to need major help along the way.

Noa Birnbaum may be a brilliant makeup artist and special effects whiz-kid, but cracking into the union is more difficult than she imagined. Keeping everyone happy is a full-time job, and she’s already run ragged. And yet when the beautiful star she’s been secretly crushing on admits to fears of her own, Noa vows to do everything in her power to help Lilah shine like never before.

Long hours? Exhausting work? No problem. Together they can take the world by storm…but can the connection forged over long hours in the makeup chair ever hope to survive the glare of the spotlight?

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (September 7th)

Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

Books to Add to Your TBR

Most Anticipated LGBTQ Middle Grade Fiction: January-June 2021

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Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera, ill. by Elle Power (January 5th)

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvie, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

Prepare to be amazed by Goldie’s second middle-grade adventure! The Crossed Palms is hosting the first ever League of Magical Arts Convention, bringing the world’s most renowned and emerging magicians to the resort, including an overeager part-time magician and detective named Derek Von Thurston. When some of the magic starts to go awry, Goldie — and Derek — are on the case! Can Goldie uncover the saboteur before the final act goes live?

Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic, this thrilling novel explores a never-before-seen caper and features 8 full-color comic pages essential to unraveling the mystery.

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Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor (January 5th)

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn’t mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she’s feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).

As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school’s musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead role!

She knows she should be excited, but mostly Avery is terrified. Can Phantom help her through her stage fright? And what will happen if anyone finds out about her secret pet?

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Middletown by Sarah Moon (April 6th)

Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late. They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

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Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (May 11th)

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .

But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

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Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake (May 25th)

Hazel Bly used to live in the perfect house with the perfect family in sunny California. But when a kayaking trip goes horribly wrong, Mum is suddenly gone forever and Hazel is left with crippling anxiety and a jagged scar on her face. After Mum’s death, Hazel, her other mother, Mama, and her little sister, Peach, needed a fresh start. So for the last two years, the Bly girls have lived all over the country, never settling anywhere for more than a few months.

When the family arrives in Rose Harbor, Maine, there’s a wildness to the small town that feels like magic. But when Mama runs into an old childhood friend—Claire—suddenly Hazel’s tight-knit world is infiltrated. To make it worse, she has a daughter Hazel’s age, Lemon, who can’t stop rambling on and on about the Rose Maid, a local 150-year-old mermaid myth.

Soon, Hazel finds herself just as obsessed with the Rose Maid as Lemon is—because what if magic were real? What if grief really could change you so much, you weren’t even yourself anymore? And what if instead you emerged from the darkness stronger than before?

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How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby (May 25th)

For Pluto, summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium. It’s the launch to her favorite season, which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.

A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.

Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.

She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (June 8th)

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias (June 8th)

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?

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